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4 posts categorized "Music"
"Eating's incredible; eating is good," sings Lazarus, the main character in the Bread for the World eponymous musical. "You have to be grateful ... for each tiny plateful ... of life-giving food," continues the hungry man at center stage of this parable.
Bread members and anti-hunger partners will get a chance to see the revival of this tale of food, justice, and redemption at the 2013 National Gathering on June 8, 2013.
Lazarus debuted in 1987 when Joel Underwood, then director of Church Relations at Bread for the World, decided to shine a light on one of Jesus’ fundamental lessons. The story, found in Luke 16, features a rich man, Dives, who refuses to share with a beggar, Lazarus, in life, but finds that he is the one in need in the afterlife. The musical brings Luke's narrative into today’s world—and into places where extreme wealth and poverty rub against each other.
I was given the gift of bringing new arrangements to Lazarus, learning a great deal in the process. I’ve always loved music: when I was young, our family sang in our little Southern church, and I knew every song in our worn-out hymnal. Throughout my life, from elementary through graduate school, God opened doors allowing me to share my music.
In December of last year, my friend Bishop Donald DiXon Williams, associate for African-American Church Relations at Bread for the World, sent me copies of the original musical score of Lazarus. For weeks I studied it with passion. I ate with Lazarus. I slept with Lazarus.
Music has changed since the debut of Lazarus, and I wanted to make sure that the melodic and harmonic structure felt contemporary—from the very first song, "the Ballad of Lazarus," to the last, "Mustard Seed Faith."
When arranging "Hunger and Poverty Blues," I expanded the bluesy melody to make sure that it would appeal to all music lovers. I know that younger listeners might not be as familiar with the blues as those of us who are lightly over 49.
"Brothers Awake" was created in my mind while jogging. A Latin beat kept it going around in my head until I was back home. I’ve learned that if you have a melody inside of you and you want to keep it forever, you had better hurry and write it down.
While the arranging the music was my first concern, this project also opened my heart—giving me deeper understanding of how hunger and poverty unjustly touch some people in our country and in the world. If this new arrangement of Lazarus can change other hearts and bring about an awareness of hunger and poverty in our country and the world, I feel that my journey with Lazarus will have been particularly harmonious.
Dr. Bill Cummings is a renowned musical director and a producer of Lazarus.
The premiere of this new arrangement of Lazarus will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, 2013, in the Kreeger Theater at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C. The performance is open to the public, but you need to secure a general admission pass or ticket online.
By Larry Hollar
As a new Bread for the World staff member in the late '80s, I had the chance to perform in the original cast of a new musical on hunger and poverty called Lazarus. Joel Underwood, who was also on Bread’s staff at the time, had taken the story of Lazarus at the rich man’s gate (Luke 16:19-31) and set it to music. He added some twists and turns in the story to challenge people of faith to consider their own responses to the tragedy of hunger in our midst.
Early in my career as a hunger advocate—which has now spanned nearly 30 years—Lazarus gave me a chance to use my musical talents to engage others in the call to justice for hungry people. I was delighted that my then-9-year-old daughter Gillian was also a member of the early cast of the musical, confidently singing a solo as a young girl asking the poignant question, “Where Can I Find Bread?” Later, I had the chance to help stage and perform in this versatile musical in two churches in Arlington, Va., and also sing on the CD of the Spanish-language version, Lázaro. Without question, this musical shaped me in my journey with Bread for the World.
I have come to believe that no movement for social justice can succeed without memorable songs to sustain and enspirit it. Joel’s musical offered singable, engaging songs for the hunger movement of its time. But times change.
So what a joy it is for me to again be part of a new—and very different—production of Lazarus that premieres in June. An entirely new cast will perform a revamped Lazarus, using Joel’s lyrics but with updated, jazzy music by the talented composer Dr. Bill Cummings. The new Lazarus premieres on Saturday, June 8, at 7 p.m. at the Mead Center in Washington, D.C., as part of the first day of Bread’s 2013 National Gathering.
You will not want to miss this special presentation, a result of the passion of my Bread colleague Don Williams, who had the vision to see Joel Underwood’s original compelling work recast for a modern vocal and instrumental idiom. Look for me in the chorus—and my now grown-up daughter will be there, too.
Bread engages us to lift our voices when we advocate to our nation’s leaders on key policies and programs for hungry people. Let’s again lift our voices—this time in song—to give us heart and a fresh dose of the Spirit as we gather June 8-11 in Washington, D.C., for the National Gathering. Join us for Lazarus and much more! For more Gathering details, see http://www.bread.org/gathering.
Larry Hollar is senior regional organizer, eastern hub states, for Bread for the World.
Members and friends of the Capital Area Food Bank, the largest nonprofit hunger and nutrition education resources in Washington, DC. From Left to Right: Leslie Van Horn, Excecutive Director of Virginia Federation of Food Banks; Lynn Brantley, CEO of Capital Area Food Bank; Congressman James Moran (D-VA); Brian D. Banks, Director of Public Policy and Community Outreach.
Food banks. Food pantries. Soup kitchens. Advocacy. One of these things is not like the others—or is it?
If you ask the staff and volunteers at the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB), advocacy now goes hand-in-hand with direct-service work. CAFB is the largest, nonprofit hunger and nutrition education resource in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. In addition to supplying more than 32 million pounds of food to communities across the region each year, CAFB’s mission has grown to include educating, empowering, and enlightening the community about the issues of hunger and nutrition. Now, CAFB is also taking the needs of the community directly to decision makers through strategic, targeted advocacy—and encouraging partner organizations and community activists to do the same.
I interviewed Brian Banks, director of public policy and community outreach at CAFB, for this month’s Breadcast. We discussed the work that CAFB does to urge lawmakers to pay attention to hunger in their communities and use their influence to make a difference. Listen to the full interview below.
On Friday, September 30, the Capital Area Food Bank hosted the Northern Virginia Hunger Summit to help area food providers find their voice. This all-day event featured workshops and discussions to equip attendees with the tools needed to reach out to decision makers and make a difference in the lives of the people they serve. They learned the importance of establishing relationships with legislators, as well as strategies for developing policy plans and ways to incorporate lobbying into their organizational mission.
As Rev. David Beckmann puts it, “We cannot food bank our way out of hunger”—meaning that food banks and other charity organizations cannot be held solely responsible for ending hunger. With this in mind, Bread for the World is not a direct-service organization, though we urge lawmakers to end hunger. While we do not directly serve hungry and poor people from a charity standpoint, we recognize and appreciate the importance of organizations that are serving people who are hungry and poor today—people who are struggling to figure out what to feed their families for dinner and don’t have time to wait on Congress to determine the fate of their government assistance programs.
Direct-service organizations have a powerful voice as they help many families bridge the gap between going hungry and getting by. They see first-hand what the needs are in their communities. Often times, direct-service organizations help people understand their rights to and qualifications for various government assistance programs, and even teach them how to use assistance programs to make healthy, sustainable food decisions for their families. Taking a cue from the Capital Area Food Bank, I hope more direct-service organizations will be encouraged to take this holistic approach to ending hunger and use their voices to change legislation that renders people hungry and poor.
Kristen Youngblood is media relations specialist at Bread for the World.
If you attended Bread for the World's National Gathering in 2009, or if you had the good fortune to attend Lobby Day in 2010, you might remember that worship included music from a singer named Bryan McFarland. (Bryan even appears in the CBS documentary on religion and politics that featured Bread's 2009 National Gathering).
Bryan, a Bread member and Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina, is also a songwriter who has made music a major part of his ministry, sharing his talent not only through live performances and CDs but also at retreats.
He has put together a couple of albums about faith and hunger. His latest work, titled "...until all are fed...," is due out in October. Click here to learn more about the album.
Bryan is funding production of the CD with small donations from ordinary folks from around the country. You can help too. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Presbyterian Hunger Program, which works with Presbyterian congregations and partners around the globe to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes.
Below is the title song of the album "...until all are fed..."